Categories
Awesomeness in the World

…and we’re back! (kind of)

I promised back in October that we’d be back in touch come November and with one day left in the month, I want to keep my promise (though I have no idea how on earth it got to be the end of November, but somehow, here we are).

I also promised you updates on new happenings. You may have noticed some of our regular bloggers went a little quiet earlier this year. Melissa has moved on to a new adventure in her career and we wish her all the best. She’s going to be all kinds of crazy successful and we can’t wait to see what happens next. Ashley has also taken on some new job responsibilities and is also focusing on her new dog, Sawyer. It’s possible he may be the cutest dog ever and I don’t blame her for spending more time with him. I’m so grateful to both of them for sharing their wit and honesty with us, and hopefully we can have them back as guest bloggers in the future.

Additionally, I’ve been hard at work on a new project of mine, Good for Her Soul. Not to be confused with the consulting and training offerings here, Good for Her Soul is support and celebration of women at every stage of life. Through the new website, we make it easy to congratulate your friend on her achievement, toast to a new chapter or let her know you’re thinking about her during a difficult time. You’ve got her back, so let us have yours. We’ve brought together everything you need to show her you care — cards, gifts, services and educational resources.

We often want to reach out, but aren’t quite sure what to say or how to say it, and this is where Good for Her Soul can help. You can check out our inspiration wall to get ideas of what’s been helpful to others during times of joy or heartache, or browse ideas and options by type of occasion or event.

While things will be a little quieter on this front for a while, I’ll continue to check back in. In the meantime, I hope you’ll enjoy Good for Her Soul, and I wish you success in all your adventures as well!

Categories
Awesomeness in the World Inside My Head

“We were on a break!”

For anyone alive in the era of NBC’s hit show Friends, you can’t help but remember Ross’ constant insistence that he didn’t cheat on Rachel because they were technically on a break when he hooked up with the copy girl. This is the phrase that keeps running through my guilt-ridden head as I think about this blog as of late. And while I haven’t broken up with you, dear readers, or hooked up with the copy girl, you might have noticed I haven’t been as attentive to our relationship as I should be. And I’m sorry about that.

Many of our contributors have been going through some changes, including me and as excited as I am, I can’t quite share the details…yet. I can just say that I’ve been working on another project that’s been taking up more and more of my time. So rather than continue to unintentionally ignore you, I’m going to put the Creative Community Blog on official hiatus for the month of October. Don’t worry – we’re not going anywhere and we’ll be back before you know it with exciting news to share. In the meantime, be good to yourselves and each other. I look forward to sharing more with you in November.

Categories
Jams

Sit Still, Look Pretty

It’s been a while since I’ve written about my jams, which is probably because it’s been a while since one has taken hold in my head. At a recent third birthday party, the guest of honor’s mother asked if I’d heard Sit Still, Look Pretty and played it for me. I’d heard it once, but hadn’t paid much attention it. She asked because it seemed her two kids – 9 and 3 – and I seemed to typically like the same music and this was their latest fav (we’ll just leave that comment about the comparison of my musical taste alone…).

It’s got such a catchy whistle intro that you can’t help but get hooked. And the chorus is almost enough to unseat my tried and true at-bat song. I’ve been struggling a bit with motivation recently and there’s nothing quite like a good pick-me-up jam to remind me of my plans for world domination. Thanks, Daya!

Oh I don’t know what you’ve been told
But this gal right here’s gonna rule the world
Yeah that is where I’m gonna be, because I wanna be
No I don’t wanna sit still, look pretty

 

Categories
Karen On the Job

A Measure of Sacrifice is Required

There is no decision we can make that doesn’t come with some sort of balance or sacrifice.    – Simon Sinek

What are you willing to give up in order to pursue what you really want? What are you willing to let go of for the sake of your dream? What might you have to leave behind because it’s not helping you get where you want to go?

A key ingredient to an entrepreneur’s success is to embrace those moments where your dream will require a measure of sacrifice.

True sacrifice is giving up something of current value to invest in something of greater value.

There are many areas of our lives that hinder us from chasing after our hopes because we don’t want to forfeit our comfort zone.

The most important decision about your goals is not what you are willing to do to achieve them, but what you are willing to give up. – Dave Ramsey

When we sincerely believe there’s a bigger picture awaiting us, sometimes we have to resign oneself to what is comfortably familiar because it no longer benefits the ultimate goal.

Q1:  What’s comfortable in your life but not beneficial to your ultimate goal?  

As Tony Robbins famously coined, “Anything you want that’s valuable requires you to break through short-term pain in order to gain long-term pleasure.

Are we willing to let go of our presuppositions that got us from where we were to where we are? They got us this far, but no farther. It served its purpose, and now it’s time to sacrifice them because what once nourished you is now hindering you from ultimate success. (A great book to read is Marshall Goldsmith’s, What Got You Here Won’t Get You There: How Successful People Become Even More Successful.)

When I listen to inspiring leaders, I hear a recurring theme. They share stories in their professional journeys where it was required of them to give something up for the sake of pursuing something greater. They chose to make their sacrifices because they knew they had to let go of their normal in return for their extraordinary.

Q2:  What might you have to relinquish today for the sake of your bright exuberant future? 

He who would accomplish little must sacrifice little; he who would achieve much must sacrifice much; he who would attain highly, must sacrifice greatly. – James Allen

A gentle reminder that sacrifice stems from a place of purpose, not self-gratification. Sacrifice comes with a cost, but always remember you’re choosing something of greater value.  You will know you’ve made a sacrifice because that choice will stretch you outside your comfort levels.

– Karen Thrall

*also published on www.karenthrall.com

Categories
Inside My Head On the Job

Personal Leadership

I recently participated in a small team discussion about leadership. Now there’s a loaded word, especially when you start examining your own strengths and challenges. I think leadership is one of those nebulous terms we throw around a lot. We also tend to haphazardly add adjectives in front of it – good, weak, thoughtful, inspired. And we seem to spend a lot of time talking about leadership. A LOT of time in my world. But that said, I don’t necessarily remember the last time I did a self-assessment of my own strengths and challenges.

It’s easy to spot what we like in others and gossip about what we don’t. But turning the question on ourselves can be a bit daunting and I found I struggled with the questions – both on the strengths and challenges side. But through that struggle, I found the exercise valuable. It helped me understand what unique qualities I bring to the table and where I have a desire to behave differently. In the interest of helping you take a look at your own list, I thought I’d share mine. And I’d love to hear what you think makes you a strong leader, as well as areas you’d like to develop. Lead on, my friends!

Strengths

  • I am confident in my own beliefs and opinions and I’m willing to share them. I think that’s a huge part of leadership.
  • I ask questions. I ask for clarification. I ask to ensure I understand. I ask to identify underlying feelings. I want to make sure I thoroughly understand what’s going on before I move ahead, whether in the conversation or with an action.
  • I like connecting with people and helping them feel heard. Being heard is a powerful feeling and limitless things can come from that space shared between people.
  • When something doesn’t go as expected, I first look to what I could have done differently. That helps me clarify what I expect and want moving forward. It also keeps me from starting with blame for others.
  • I believe life is more fun when you’re positive, and that goes for work and play. I work to see the positive and not be so focused on the negative.
  • I believe there is always something that can be done – there are always more options.

 

Challenges

  • Delegating and sharing responsibility can be hard for me. Trusting that others are invested at a level that makes me comfortable is tough.
  • I have high expectations and I can take it personally when those expectations aren’t met. I think these high expectations can sometimes come off as high maintenance, which can be a challenge for me (I wrote a whole blog post on this one!).
  • I can get stuck in the details of something and get so focused on making it work that I can miss an easier and better solution because I’m too far down the path with the first option.
  • I can sometimes worry too much about how other people feel. It doesn’t always prevent me from taking action, but it can cause me to struggle in moving forward to letting something go.
  • I believe there is always something that can be done – there are always more options (yes, you read that right – I consider this both a strength and a challenge since it can sometimes drive me crazy).

 

Categories
Inside My Head Karen

Hey, you – the leader! Know your guiding values!

I came across a document I wrote on January 1, 2008, expounding on my three guiding values. I was immediately curious to read it, wondering if it still resonated within me.

The answer? YES!!!

Isn’t it incredible that guiding values live inside us regardless of the changes of life, new chapters, same chapters, good times, hard times, in seasons of plenty and in seasons of need?

Business is exactly the same. In business, it’s referred to as the mission statement – why we do what we do. What do you want your company to be known for? And please do not say money!

Check out what a seasoned mission statement looks like:

NIKE: “To bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete* in the world. *If you have a body, you are an athlete.”

STARBUCKS: “To inspire and nurture the human spirit – one person, one cup and one neighbourhood at a time.”

WHOLE FOODS: “With great courage, integrity and love – we embrace our responsibility to co-create a world where each of us, our communities, and our planet can flourish. All the while, celebrating the sheer love and joy of food.”

Pay attention to this next phrase: A leader’s guiding values carry more influence than a company’s mission statement.

As a leader, as the decision-maker, as the company’s burden bearer – before you incorporate a mission statement for your business – please formulate your personal guiding values. The DNA of your company depends on it. The more you live out your guiding values, the healthier your mission statement will be.

A mission statement is the non-negotiable reputation, the first impression, and the legacy a company leaves behind. The mission statement is the connecting point where everyone who signs up to play on your team identifies, relates and resonates with the company’s declaration.

Before you ask anyone to sign up to a company’s mission statement, do you know your own guiding values?

Know why you do what you do; why you’re unwavering in core principles and why you won’t allow circumstances to compromise who you are. That’s powerful stuff!

After re-reading my guiding values, I found myself coming into alignment again in a fresh way. I also realized I need to be reading these guiding values on a consistent basis. It’s like giving myself my very own pep talk!

Here’s the bottom line: the reason I need guiding values to remain in the forefront of my life is because I know that when I walk these out great things happen…to those around me. Guiding values are principles you live that positively impact others.

Commit to your guiding values regularly, intentionally and confidently. Remain steadfast in how you live your life and impact the people around you.

– Karen Thrall

*also published on www.karenthrall.com

Categories
Inside My Head

Flexibility

Someone on my Facebook feed recently linked to a Psychology Junkie blog on How Each Myers-Briggs Type Reacts to Stress (and How to Help!). I always find these things fascinating and take them with a grain of salt at the same time. Whenever we generalize based on one thing – geographic location, generation, Myers-Briggs-type – we can set ourselves up to miss important pieces of information and make faulty assumptions. That said, I think we can always learn something or find a different way to think about a behavior.

I tend to bounce between ENFP and ENTJ. I was a solid ENFP in my younger years and while many of those same traits are still prevalent, as I get older, I’ve come out as an ENTJ in more recent assessments. However, as I read the stressors and of an ENTJ, many of those resonated with me, though the second to last line stopped me in my tracks.

“They may feel overwhelmed, out of control, unable to sort out priorities, and thus become inflexible.”

I find planning and routine comforting in times of stress, but I’d never thought about it quite in this way. I can find it hard to go with the flow if I’m feeling particularly stressed and I do get irritated when things change, especially last minute. It’s not that I can’t adjust – it’s just that my brain was prepared for one thing and now that’s not happening and it feels like my rusty gears have trouble shifting as quickly as I’d like.That said, I’d seen my need for control and order during times of stress as a positive – a way to buckle down and get things done, but it hadn’t ever occurred to me that it could (and I’m certain does!) come across as being inflexible.

It never hurts to become a little more acquainted with ourselves and learn more about how our actions might be seen by others. I’ll be over here working on my flexibility if anyone needs me…

 

Categories
Career Karen

The Winter of Business

“I write probably 80 percent of my stuff over the winter.” -Bob Seger

Using the metaphor of seasons, every business – no matter what type – goes through a winter season.

Spring is fresh and new.

Summer is vibrant and steady.

Fall is transition and change.

Winter… oh winter… winter is stillness.

In winter, the leaves aren’t flourishing on the trees. The ground is covered with snow. The wind is cold.The lakes are frozen over. The land is sleeping.

Business is similar. One of the important reality checks for any business is preparing and planning for winter seasons.

Before winter, pioneers would prepare for the barren months. They’d store up food, stack up firewood and winterize their homes. They prepared for winter.

Why would business be any different?

Don’t fret the winter season. Rather, prepare for it. Add it to your projections. Calculate it into your budgets. The ‘what if’ of business.  Some call it Risk Management.

After all, the winter of business isn’t so bad.

Ok, sales are down. Profits are waning. Payroll just got a little tougher. Spending is lean. And it’s part of running a business.

I’ve always believed that when times get tough, it’s our chance to re-create, re-think, re-strategize and re-maximize our opportunities.  

Winter is the preparation for new growth and your business is like a tree. It’s in those times when you strengthen your roots to handle more, not less.

What can you do to strengthen your roots? What new thinking can you activate? What areas have you not yet explored? Look for the new.

There’s always room for improvement.  Here are a few examples:

  1. Is the company running smoothly? Are there any areas internally that need adjusted?
  2. Have you done an outstanding job expressing value, recognition and reward for your staff’s contribution and do you have plans to improve your already impressive customer service?
  3. Are employees being re-trained to empower them to be a great winning team? Is your leadership unified and building the same vision, together?
  4. Is your message relevant and attracting new customers? Is your marketing campaign looking tired and ineffective?
  5. Is your product of superior standards? Are your procedures consistent across the boards?
  6. Are you setting and implementing new goals to keep you moving forward? Are you maximizing your resources and opportunities?

See what I mean?  Winter isn’t so bad. Strengthen your roots. You need strong roots to grow strong trees and produce a fruitful grove.

Embrace your winter.

– Karen Thrall

*also published on www.karenthrall.com

 

Categories
Inside My Head

August?!?

Every summer, I look forward to the slower pace, a little more time on my hands and the opportunity to catch up. And every summer, I am sorely disappointed. The time flies by – at a seemingly faster pace than the year before, if that’s even possible. Things are more hectic with travel, visitors and unexpected projects. Don’t get me wrong – I enjoy the varied routine, and I especially love the travel and visitors, but I am always taken by surprise at how fast the time goes and how quickly the routine of fall is looming over us.

This summer has been no exception (thus, the reasons we were quite last week on the blog), so you think I’d learn my lesson by now. In anticipation of a little more time, I took on a couple extra projects in the spring for the summer. However, my extra time never quite materialized and now I’m packing just a little more in to an already full schedule. And somehow, it’s already the second week of August. How on earth did that happen?!?

This fast travel through time has me thinking about a recent article I saw about vacation planning. The author was encouraging readers to schedule vacation time before anything else, and I think I may try the approach next year. I think we often figure we’ll find a week or two once the calendar is set and go from there. But as I discover (over and over again), those quiet weeks never come unless we make them a priority.

So as the last few weeks of summer get away from me, I’ve looked towards the fall and already have a long weekend or two set aside to make sure I’ve got some time for me. Here’s hoping it’s a skill I will have mastered by the time the summer of 2017 rolls around.

Categories
On the Job

Stars, Snacks and Naps

A client I’ve been working with has been encouraging attendance at their monthly lunch and learns with some name plate swag afterwards. It’s nothing fancy – they started with putting gold stars on everyone’s name plate after the first lunch and learn. Then it was a smiley face ticket, a flower and so on. It’s been fun to watch the office fill up with bright colors and a little bit of fun as the year progresses.

It’s also been really fun to watch everyone get excited to receive their swag stickers after each event. As the swag is distributed after each lunch and learn, people are eager to see what they get this time. They love their owls, their festive fireworks and flags and it’s a reminder to me that we don’t change much from our early school days. We still love gold stars and stickers, and it’s nice to be recognized with a little fun.  It’s the same reason I never have a training session without snacks. Now if I could just figure out a way to work naps into the regular work routine, we’d complete the trifecta and I’d be a happy camper. Just one more way it seems we really did learn everything we need to know in kindergarten.